The difference between reluctant readers and struggling readers.

First of all, in needs to be understood that there is a big difference between the two.  Just because someone doesn’t like to read, does not mean that they aren’t good at it, or that they struggle with it. It may be that they just haven’t found the right book.

Reluctant readers generally have trouble connected with books that they are reading on their own. Struggling readers struggle with one or more parts of the reading process. Parts such as: comprehension, flow, fluency, inflection, vocabulary, decoding or phonemic awareness. Some readers fall into both categories.

Five suggestions for parents of reluctant readers.

First, Choice. In a couple of weeks each student will take the SRI test. The SRI gives an approximate number value to your child’s reading level. It is scored on a range of 0-1700 zero being the lowest, and 1700 being on a post-graduate level. The SRI scoring system is not perfect, but as of right now, it is the best resource we have to identify books with readers. Let your children pick their own book. This process is more than just choosing a book.  This process helps them feel independent, like they are growing up and making decisions on their own. This is important. Students are more likely to finish a book if they choose it. Having said that, maybe they make a bad book choice, it’s ok to stop a book if they don’t like it.

Second, Leveled Books. Lexile.com has some great resources for finding books. You can see them here. Once you have your child’s SRI score you can start to look for books that are on their level. This is one of the keys in finding a good book for reluctant readers. A general rule of thumb is to keep books within 100 points either up or down of a particular reading level.

Third, High Interest Books and other texts such as: Graphic Novels, Magazines, Newspapers, specialty books. Students will read more if they are interested in the content of the book. This is especially important for boys. If they like skating, snowboarding, hunting, or extreme sports, find books where these types of things are the central idea. How to books are fantastic for boys. How to do a certain trick on a skateboard, how to conquer a certain level of a video game ect.

Fourth, availability to books. Books need to be made available to children; preferably at home, but if not at home, then at school, or regular scheduled trips to the public library. Book exposure increases the chances of finding a good book. Like any other activity, finding a good book takes practice.

Fifth, reading examples.  This is something we all need. When we see other people reading or choosing a book, we see what the process looks and feels like.  This is vital to helping our reluctant and struggling readers. They do what we do. This is one of the reasons I push reading so much in my class.

When you finish this article, email me and let me know if you have questions about your individual child.

Mr. Campbell